27 August 2020 | ulicknormanowen
Judicial mumbo jumbo for an innocent man.
Anatole France's tale was transferred to the screen from the silent era by Jacques Feyder (his version generally considered the best),then by Jacques De Baroncelli in the thirties and by Ralph Habib (this fifties movie).
Generally dismissed as "cinema de papa" , this version deserves your undivided attention ;the imdb rating is totally unfair: Yves Deniaud is a very endearing Crainquebille , a nice fifty-someting fellow ,a street merchant selling fresh fruit and vegetables ;although the story was written at the beginning of the twentieth century , the action does bot suffer for being transposed to the present (the fifties that is) ;the screenplay is faithful to the spirit of the story : justice is hard on the poor :to the humble people ,the judicial jargon is all Greek,and the magistrate 's attitude shows contempt for those who were not fortunate enough to be educated .
The keyword is "arbitrary ": like the Bastille ,in the brats' history lesson ,was the symbol of a despotic power , Crainquebille 's arrest (he would have called names a gendarme ) and trial : the lawyer does not miss an opportunity to display her knowledge during her interminable speech for the defence but cannot even get an acquittal for her miserable client -fifteen days in jail ,its a long time when you've got to earn your crust ...and when you're totally innocent .In the precedent century , Hugo's Jean Valjean was sent to hard labor for stealing a loaf (but a millionaire would get away with his wife's murder Crainquebille says )
Instead of supporting and helping their fellow man ,all the people in his block turn their back on him (he's been in jail! ) ,they do not buy anything from him (but some of them keep on stealing his stuff);theres's no class consciousness , they do not realize they are exploited by a system in which the poor always loses.
Only children show more compassion ,perhaps because they feel that Crainquebille, in spite of his age, is a grown up kid ,naive , kind and confinding .Their little ditty depicts the common milieu with its merchants ,its street pedlars and the lottery tickets seller ;only one of them will take the pariah by the hand.